Raiders DC: Vontaze Burfict's suspension a 'witch hunt'

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Vontaze Burfict's season is over, lost to an NFL suspension, the fourth of the linebacker's career. But the Oakland Raiders are not over it.

In his Thursday presser, Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther expressed disgust with his starting LB's season-long ban.

"For us to sign him and the history I had with this guy, with us knowing that the next infraction he was going to get was gonna end his season, maybe his career, I think it was a witch hunt from the beginning quite honestly," Guenther said. "Somebody in the league didn't want him playing football and they got what they wanted. So we're going to keep a close eye, the Raiders are going to keep a close eye and make sure everybody's being held to the same standard as Vontaze was.

"Now we had no idea that this guy. ... Does it make any sense to sign a guy after one infraction he's going to get thrown out of the league for a year? No, it doesn't. I think it's very unfair. it's unfair to our team. It's unfair to Vontaze. But we've got resilient players in there, proud guys and they're going to fill in for him and they're going to play for him."

Burfict was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season following a hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle on Sept. 30. Burfict appealed the suspension but it was upheld by the league, with NFL VP of football operations Jon Runyan citing Burfict's "extensive history of rules violations" as a reason for the unprecedented ban. Burfict had been suspended three times prior, as well as fined seven times.

Guenther saw the impetus for Burfict's long suspension a little differently.

"There's no standard there. That's the issue I have," Guenther said. "There's nothing, like, 'Hey, next time you do this, you're gone from the year, maybe your career.' I think that's unfair. Hey, you can warn a guy but if you put that in writing, the next time this happens, you're done, okay? That's where I have a problem. That's unfair to the kid. That's unfair to all the players around the league to not know where you. ... Really, hey, OK, next time you do this, you've been warned, you've been warned. Now you give this guy a a whole-year suspension? I don't think that's right at all. I don't care who says what. I don't believe that's the right thing to do.

"And now they've opened up a whole can of worms as far as the next guy who's going to do it. We've got to make sure if we're going to do it to this one guy, this one guy driving 38 miles an hour in a 30 mile-an-hour zone for the cop looking for one guy doing it, that all the players are (held) to the same standard. That's where I have the issue."

Signed in the offseason after seven years in Cincinnati, where Guenther was Burfict's assistant coach/defensive coordinator for all seven seasons, Burfict was named a Raiders captain ahead of the 2019 campaign. He played just four games and 191 defensive snaps, totaling 18 tackles and no sacks.

Tahir Whitehead has taken over defensive play-calling duties with Burfict out and Nicholas Morrow has seen his role increase in Guenther's defense, as well.

The Raiders (3-2) will look to move on in their second full game without Burfict against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

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